You are posting a comment about... LA Times: CAIR Backs Olive Tree Initiative in UCAL system â€“ a risk to life, limb and student minds
Olive Tree Initiaitve and Hamas from Fousesqwak
The liberal Los Angeles Times weighed in this weekend on the mindless risky Olive Tree initiative (OTI) program spawned at U.C. Irvine using funds from major Jewish donors via the Rose Project of the Orange County (California) Jewish Federation. The LA Times article, “Olive Tree Initiative aims to hear both sides in Middle East conflict” revealed the fecklessness of U.C. Irvine students and the support of CAIR given the risks of traveling and schmoozing with enemies of the Jewish State of Israel seeking its destruction like Hamas. Witness these excerpts:
Since its inception, the group has organized three university trips and two community trips. Fifteen to 20 UCI students go on the two-week trip, splitting their time equally between Israel and the Palestinian territories.
"I think OTI is a really great example of an innovative campus program that has developed a really constructive way of addressing campus tension," said Megan Braun, a UCI graduate who went on the 2010 trip.
Other UC campuses, such as UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz and UCLA, have taken a cue from OTI's accomplishments by starting chapters of their own.
[. . .]
To the group of 15 to 20 students who make the yearly summer trip to the Middle East, they think that the publicity about the incident distracts from OTI's mission, which isn't to take sides or point fingers, but to start an intellectual dialogue with those representing different perspectives.
"For many OTI members, investing ourselves in an organization based on education rather than advocacy … can be difficult, as it becomes a source of controversy and criticism from our respective communities," said OTI member Armaan Rowther.
Braun believes the 2009 meeting has allowed them to put one of their many fundamental beliefs to the test: listening to all sides.
Although she does not agree with the moral or political position of Hamas, she said, it does not mean that students cannot engage with that group academically.
"I think it would be impossible to claim we can understand the area without considering Hamas," she said. "If you really want to understand that region, then that narrative needs to be part of the overall study and experience."
Isaac Yerushalmi, a former OTI member who is now studying in Israel, hopes people understand that OTI will always be non-partisan and educational.
"Educational initiatives like the Olive Tree Initiative are a friend to all those who seek peace and coexistence in the region — Israelis and Arabs, Jews, Muslims and Christians alike," he said in an e-mail.
Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), believes the students are pioneering an important educational project by engaging with the region hands-on.
"You're dealing with people that are in conflict with each other," said Ayloush, whose organization is based in Anaheim. "It's not about agreeing with them," he said. "It's about hearing the unique narratives of each of the sides there and learning how to maneuver around it to get the parties closer together to promote peace."
Dee Sterling of Ha – Emet, the OC Task Force on Anti-Semitism, Gary Fouse of the Fousesqwaks blog and colleague Debra Glazer in a Pajamas Media piece have weighed in this weekend on this staggeringly stupid program.
Sterling of Ha-Emet in an email expressed the ironic opinion this was ‘good news’ that the Rose project backers of the OTI program at U.C.Irvine, and the leaders of the Orange County Jewish federation had the support of Muslim Brotherhood front group, CAIR. CAIR was identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Federal Dallas trial and convictions of the leadership of the Holy Land Foundation that according to 1993 World Trade Bombing trial federal prosecutor, Andy McCarthy, had funneled upwards of $36 million to Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization designated by our government.
Following this line of thinking, one must wonder if OTI employs this sort of naive logic with the Klu Klux Klan or other dangerous white supremacist groups? Hamas is virulently anti-Semitic and dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel. Meanwhile, despite OTI’s “efforts”, nothing has changed on campus.
This misguided venture is proving to be much more than a slanted project in favor of the Palestinian narrative. It is a disaster and a tragedy waiting to happen. And when it does, the lawyers will be standing by licking their chops.
The following headline is fictitious, but just imagine a story like this in your newspaper (or laptop) sometime in 2011 or later:
“Bodies of 12 UC Students Found Headless in West Bank Town”
An official of the Palestinian Authority announced today that 12 headless bodies, believed to be students from the University of California’s Olive Tree Initiative program, have been located in the town of Nablus in the West Bank. The students were kidnapped over one week ago by Hamas terrorists, and efforts to secure their release were apparently unsuccessful. Hamas has announced that the slain students admitted in the moments before their execution that they were “Jewish, Christian, or Hindu infidels.” Hamas has issued a statement claiming that they continue to hold the other 6 OTI students, believed to be Moslem, as ransom for the release of several of their fighters who have been imprisoned by the Palestinian Fatah party. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has assured the university that its forces are looking for the 6 kidnapped students and will bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice. He also stated that the actions of Hamas do not advance the goals of the Palestinian people.
Is this horrible imagined event improbable? Not when you recall that, as has recently been disclosed pursuant to a California Public Records Act filing , UC Irvine’s Olive Tree Initiative students met with Aziz Duwaik during their 2009 trip.
Duwaik is a representative of Hamas who serves as speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Hamas actually contends that he (and not Mahmoud Abbas) is the president of the Palestinian Authority. The United States does not recognize his claim to the presidency, largely because Hamas is on the U.S.’s list of terrorist organizations.
In addition, Duwaik served time in Israeli prisons for almost 3 years, and was released only a few weeks before his meeting with the students. Hamas detests America and Americans, and has special antipathy towards Jews, whose genocide it calls for in the Hamas Charter. It is not too far-fetched to imagine that this group of unarmed students might quickly have found themselves surrounded and overwhelmed by terrorists who had decided to use them as pawns in the never-ending internecine warfare among Palestinian factions.
Glazer went on to underline the risk exposures to the UCAL system and students that we had earlier raised:
We wonder if they have thought through the consequences, and if they have undertaken the requisite risk assessment of these feckless projects. Have they purchased kidnap, ransom, and torture insurance? Have they obtained waivers and indemnification from the participants, and have they received written opinions from credible counsel that the waivers and indemnification will stand up in court? They may want to take a look at their directors and officers liability policies while they’re at it. As a business attorney, I routinely advise clients to review their insurance coverages in light of their actual business operations. That is obviously an elementary and prudent step to take.
And, by the way, meeting with Hamas may have violated U.S. law. Not only that, but having the OTI faculty and advisors instruct the students to conceal the meeting, as disclosed in the October 2009 letter, may have violated U.S. and Israeli law, not to mention the university’s own policies of professorial conduct. Plus, it reeks of cover-up by all parties involved, including the Jewish Federation which failed to disclose this meeting with its own disgruntled community. The university, the Jewish Federation, and other supporters of OTI programs should be consulting with their compliance departments as well as with their risk managers.
If they haven’t assessed the risk and purchased enough coverage, which in and of itself is a very costly proposition, the taxpayers of California, as well as the generous donors to the Jewish Federation of Orange County, may be in for a great shock when they learn the extent of the multi-million dollar liabilities that these enterprises may someday face.
The LA Times piece shows how dangerously feckless the liberal media is in fostering the delusion that by sending young naïfs into harm’s way, that you can understand "both sides." While we have written about this potentially explosive risk, the message has yet to sink in to the minds of Jewish community leaders and UCAL system officials. In light of the recent Fogel family slaughter and Joseph Tomb killing of an Israeli in the West Bank and the execution of Italian International Solidarity Movement Palestinian advocate, Vittorio Arrigoni in Gaza, you would have thought that the a probable risk of exposure would have dawned in the minds of U.C. Irvine and its Chancellor. Apparently not.
When one of these OTI aficionados gets kidnapped or killed, the UCAL system will be sued for wrongful death amid an ensuing scandal with much public hand wringing in the liberal media, after the fact. That Jewish funders and Jewish organizations are backing this looming train wreck waiting to happen is unimaginable and appalling. Perhaps we need a courageous attorney like former USDOJ Office of Special Investigations prosecutor, New York lawyer Neal Sher to bring a pre-emptive cause of action to bring this charade to a halt, permanently.